This past weekend was PodCamp Toronto. PodCamp, for the uninitiated, is a user-generated conference (or unconference). It is open, and features sessions and content provided by participants. It is by the community and for the community.

I’m a member of the organizing team for PodCamp Toronto and have for the past four years. I work with a team of passionate and dedicated volunteers who keep true to the PodCamp spirit. The Toronto event is open to anyone, free to attend (sponsor-supported), and participants suggest and provide all the programming. In the same spirit, the Law of Two Feet applies.

If at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing: Give greetings, use your two feet, and go do something useful. Responsibility resides with you.

Just imagine if the Law of Two Feet applied to all conferences (or business meetings, for that matter).

Overtime, as social media and digital has evolved, so, too, has PodCamp Toronto. Initially for a core group of early adopters, it has expanded over time to reach literally hundreds of participants and become Canada’s largest new media event.

What I find truly remarkable is to watch this community expand and morph over time while remaining committed to the core values of the unconference movement, which are pretty closely aligned to the old school social media values: add value, be respectful, take ownership and be your authentic self.

To give you a feel for how it all goes down, here’s a small sample of the hundreds of Tweets generated (and still being generated) by the participants at PodCamp Toronto 2012:

 

 

As social media has been adopted by big business, words like “authenticity” have taken on buzzword status and have been somewhat watered down. With that context, it is genuinely remarkable to take a step back at PodCamp and reconnect with a true-blue community of people who are create and share content about their passions and are not necessarily motivated by conversions, ROI and the bottom line.

If PodCamp or an unconference comes to your town I encourage you to check it out—leave your big business baggage at the door, come as a human being and make true meaningful connections with real people.

If you were at PodCamp Toronto over the weekend, or have attended unconferences in the past, what do you think business can learn from the unconference movement?

 

 

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